Overview of the Wine
Calabretta’s vineyards are located nearly a half mile above sea level in the black volcanic soils of Etna’s north slope, between Randazzo and Castiglione di Sicilia. There, Calabretta farms roughly seven hectares of mostly 70- to 80-year-old vines—many of them ungrafted—on stepped terraces supported by stone walls.
Since the winery’s founding in 1900, the Calabretta family has farmed and produced wines from Etna’s ancient indigenous varieties—including Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio—in the mountain’s unique noble vineyards.
Historically, the family had sold its wine in sfuso or in barrel to restaurants and to private customers, many of whom travelled long distances to pick up their wine. But in 1997, third- and fourth-generation father and son Massimo and Massimiliano Calabretta decided to bottle their best wine under their own label to ensure the winemaking traditions of their family and Etna would not be lost.
The vineyard practices sound modern but are in fact rooted in the past. They avoid using chemical pesticides or herbicides, and they harvest by hand, starting around the second week of October. Fermentations are carried out exclusively with wild yeasts.
Calabretta is part of the Triple A group – which stands for Agricoltori (Farmer) Artigianale Artisti. It’s a collective of wineries across Europe that that includes E.Pepe, Radikon, A. Occhipinti, Foradori and SRC in Italy. The vineyards, planted piede franco (ungrafted rootstock), are mostly in Contrade Calderara and no chemicals have ever been used. Over the last few years Massimiliano has planted 60,000 new vines, also piede franco.
Coming from both old vineyards and younger plants, Carricante di Calabretta stands out for its natural freshness and excellent structure. Vinified in white and left to mature in steel only, what results is a particularly tactile, bright and elegant wine, traced by a clear minerality.
Grape / Blend
95% Nerello Mascalese, 5% Nerello Cappuccio
Winemaker's Tasting Notes
Massimiliano Calabretta holds more in common with some of the stalwarts of traditional Barolo production than he does with most of his fellow Etna producers. He ages his wine in large neutral oak botti and holds his wine back for years in bottle before release. There are no recipes but some vintages age for as long as 12 (between cask and bottle) years in the cellar before release. With the 2004 vintage, Massimiliano decided to begin bottling what had formerly been his Etna Rosso as Nerello Mascalese Vigne Vecchie. In the past the DOCG board would sometimes reject one or two of his botti saying they were not "typical Etna Rosso" -- in those cases he was forced to declassify that wine even though he felt it was up to his own standards. Rather than take a chance to continue be forced to declassify wine, he decided to bottle everything as IGT so that he could make his own decisions accordingly to his own taste - and not be forced to change his style.
Product size: 750ml